JoAnn Burkholder is director of the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology at North Carolina State University. Burkholder directed her Pew fellowship toward three goals related to the toxic dinoflagellate Pfiesteria, a type of algae that causes disease and death of marine life. Her fellowship focused on documentation of effects on fish, more Pfiesteria research material, and education outreach about how to control harmful algal blooms by reducing nutrient pollution to estuarine public trust waters. She worked with Maryland officials to develop policies for the sampling of Pfiesteria-related fish kills and disease events, and for the opening/closing of toxic outbreak areas. She also developed information about Pfiesteria science at the request of federal and state agencies in a number of East Coast states. Her fellowship also supported more than 250 presentations to state and federal agencies, universities, schools, and community groups in which she cited Pfiesteria as an example of serious, unanticipated results of coastal water quality degradation that threatens fisheries. Burkholder documented impacts of Pfiesteria on fish disease, including extensive damage to skin, muscle, gills, brain, kidneys, hepatopancreas, and liver. She also made progress on mass-culturing Pfiesteria, needed for chemical characterization of its toxins, which was completed by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration laboratory led by Dr. Peter Moeller. In addition, she worked to understand the interactions of warming temperatures, pollution, and human development in promoting increases in harmful algal blooms. She and 13 other scientists authored a report featured in the journal Science that examined the influence of these interacting factors in promoting fish kills and bleaching of coral reefs around the world.
To learn more about Burkholder, visit her bio online: https://www.cals.ncsu.edu/pmb/Faculty/jburkholder/jburkholder.html.